Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Government of Southern Sudan: progression or regression?

I am a natural pessimist when it comes to any governments activities, be they Western, Eastern or African governments.

My observations of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS for short) are pretty straightforward; in the time since it was inaugurated I believe the GOSS continues to improve. Slowly, steadily, plodding ever forward, but it is improving. Here are a few tidbits to support that idea.

  • Recent budget constraints caused by the drop in oil prices caused the GOSS to show a great deal of financial restraint and responsibility. They lowered government salaries, lowered government spending across the board and imposed other austerity measures. Conversely, the Government of National Unity is mulling taking on more debt from China and raising VAT and "development" taxes.
  • A day does not pass without the GOSS officials I see mentioning the coming elections. The discussions usually center around the concepts of transparency, timeliness, adhering to the CPA, and most importantly, conducting elections that hold up their end of the social compact they have with the people they govern. A number of other governments in this region have different opinions on the use and conduct of elections, much of which involves the practice of exclusion, tension, censorship, and tribalism.
  • The GOSS, particularly the senior administration officials reflexively fall back to the concepts of inclusion and maintain a sensitivity about regionalism and tribalism. Simply put, they do a pretty good job of not exacerbating tribal tensions. I happen to think this behavior/practice is a holdover from the civil war -- their opponents in the north used the age-old tribal tensions and prejudices to split the southerners and the SPLA/SPLM leaders worked hard to compensate for that.
These are just three examples I can think of. Readers are encouraged to post their thoughts here too!

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